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More Travel, But Fewer Flyers, This Holiday Season

O'Hare Security Line

A security line at O’Hare International Airport on Nov. 25, 2009. (Credit: CBS)

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CHICAGO (CBS) — The roads will be busier, and the airports less crowded, for the upcoming holiday travel season.

As WBBM Newsradio’s Regine Schlesinger reports, AAA projects a 1.4 percent increase in travel over the 11-day holiday period beginning next week, with nearly 92 million Americans going 50 miles or more from home.

LISTEN: WBBM Newsradio’s Regine Schlesinger reports

That would be the second highest number of travelers in a decade.

But AAA also expects almost 10 percent fewer passengers will take to the skies this year. It blames higher airfares and reduced flight schedules for the drop in air travel.

Fares now are more than 20 percent higher than last year, and the highest in five years.

Among Illinoisans, 4.6 million people are expected to travel – a slight increase as gas prices remain higher than last year, averaging $3.35 per gallon in Illinois.

AAA also says this year, hotel rates are about one percent higher while the cost of a rental car has dropped more than 20 percent over last year to the lowest in five years.

The head of AAA calls the pickup in travel a positive sign for the industry.